This program is organized by Duke faculty/staff in collaboration with DukeEngage.
June 21 - August 16
Partnering with organizations focused on social and environmental justice; community development; youth skills development; women and children’s well-being; and other issues critical to a community established as the result of apartheid.
Students live and spend most of their time in Wentworth, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Durban. Students are matched with organizations working to improve the economic, environmental, educational and overall living conditions for residents of Wentworth, a community that was established as the result of apartheid, the strict system of racial discrimination that ruled South Africa for decades prior to 1994 when Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s president. (There are opportunities to learn about the impact of apartheid from the NGO leaders, community members and others.)
Students are immersed in a range of meaningful efforts and activities—meaningful with regard to the students’ world view, educational development and personal growth and meaningful in terms of the contributions the students can make.
There are partial and full-day excursions in the Durban area and an overnight trip (2-3 nights) to Mnweni, a rural community in the Drakensberg Mountains, an area of KwaZulu-Natal province. Mnweni residents run a cultural tourism and economic development center where guests stay in traditional rondavel houses.
Throughout the program, students are exposed to the impact of government policy on on-the-ground service delivery. They interact with individuals and organizations directly involved with “the struggle” (as the effort to abolish apartheid was and still is called).
The program seeks students who are interested in direct services as well as in the government, policy, and power systems that require, fund, and otherwise influence those services.
Following are likely placement options for 2013. One or more sites listed here may have more than one student and one or more sites may not have any students. See additional site information below at "Placement Information."
· Assegai Primary School
· Isiaiah 54 Children’s Home
· Ocean View Place of Safety
· One Global Economy Computer Center
· South Durban Basin Area Based Management (possible)
· South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
· St. Monica Children’s Home
· Victim Friendly Centre
· We Help Our Children
Through the organizations above, students work on a range of challenges, including but not limited to:
· Capacity building for non-governmental organizations
· Child welfare
· Community economic development
· Domestic violence
· Environmental advocacy, education, law and policy
· Health and health education
· Youth development, including academic and life skills
Language/Other Prerequisites: None. English is the primary language spoken in Wentworth. Throughout the province of KwaZulu-Natal, Zulu is the most common language.
Reflection Sessions: The site leaders lead weekly reflection sessions in which the student participants actively contribute. The program blog is another opportunity for student reflection.
Neighborhood: Wentworth is a community in South Durban. Durban, with a population of over three million, is South Africa’s third largest city and home to South Africa’s largest port. It has the largest population of Asians in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa as a whole has the largest population of people of Indian descent outside of India in the world, the vast majority of them living in the Durban area. Durban is in KwaZulu-Natal province, which has a large Zulu population.
Wentworth is best known for being situated in the heart of an industrial basin surrounded by oil refineries, along with chemical and manufacturing plants, the outputs of which many blame for the significant health problems endured by many local residents. Wentworth was initially populated almost exclusively by “coloured” South Africans who, like so many non-whites, were forcibly removed from their homes in the city centers during Apartheid. While still self-described as “coloured,” Wentworth is ethnically and racially diverse and growing more so. The history of Apartheid is the history of Wentworth as is the new history of post-Apartheid South Africa.
In addition to the large multi-national corporations, Wentworth’s hospital borders a nature preserve. The community boasts strong environmental activism stemming from problems related to the oil refineries and other controversial industries.
The range of economic well-being in Wentworth is striking. Large parts of the community consist of comfortable houses that were once all of the same cookie-cutter design and now show the results of decades of add-ons that have expanded and individualized the dwellings. This is in contrast to areas of extreme poverty, where families live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, children run through litter-strewn roads without shoes on their feet, and many whose families can’t afford the school fees don’t attend school. Unemployment is at 50%, some say even higher, though official government numbers claim a lower rate (the official national rate has hovered around 25% in recent years).
Housing and Accommodations: Students begin the program at a local guesthouse where students and staff stay for approximately one week. Other than the 2-3-day trip to Mnweni, accommodations for the rest of the program are in the homes of Wentworth families. Most if not all of the families have served as homestay hosts before. . Each student has a private bedroom. All homes have electricity and running hot and cold water. Many of the homestay sites are within walking distance from the students’ work sites. Many of the homestay hosts are familiar with (and some work directly with) the program NGO sites.
Meals: While at the guesthouse, the students eat breakfast and dinner there. While at the homes, breakfast, many dinners and some lunches and dinners are at the homes. Some meals are at the work site and/or in groups for the reflection sessions, social and cultural outings, etc. Students have use of the homestay kitchen and refrigerator space. They are encouraged to eat dinner with their hosts at least a few times a week and may wish to do so much more frequently. There are restaurants within a short drive from the homestays, most of them reasonably priced.
Communication: Most in-country communication is by cell phone, including extensive text messaging. Cell phone use is essentially universal in South Africa and communication is straightforward and reliable. The program provides each student with a cell phone and initial minutes/texting capacity. Students may also bring their own phones. Additional communication is by e-mail. Each student should bring a laptop if possible both for communication purposes and for use in their work. They have access to the community technology center and other locations where free Internet access is available. There are also Internet cafes in Wentworth. Students wishing to Skype should bring their own headphones.
Transportation: A primary means of transportation to and from work sites is via the program rental car (driven by program staff only). Other transportation needs are met by one or more established transportation services located in Wentworth. Other local transportation options include renting a car, hiring a driver and using taxis. Students are advised not to use the local “taxis” or “combis” unless they are with community members familiar with their use. Some of the students stay close enough to their internship site to walk to their placement each day. Others need a ride, which is arranged by program staff.
Volunteer Placement Logistics: Most of the organizations where students work were started by individuals who launched their efforts with little or no funding or formal support. Over the years, many of them have become well-known and relied upon community organizations, often struggling to keep up with demand for services from their “constituents”.
Most placements include a shadowing component, where the students accompany staff on their daily work and assist with that work as appropriate. Features of the placements include the combination of hands-on and written work, and possibilities for student-initiated programming.
Following are brief descriptions of expected placement sites and the type of work students are likely to do. As noted above, it is possible that one or more placements may have more than one student and that one or more sites will have no student. In addition, the students carry out one or more group projects, which could range from a one-day service project to a program-long project. Details are determined with student leadership and community partner input.
Assegai Primary School
Assegai is a co-ed government (public) elementary school. DukeEngage students support the existing curriculum and may develop new projects/programs for the elementary school students. They may be involved with efforts in areas such as tutoring, after school programming, and school beautification.
At each of the possible children’s home sites, a significant portion of the student’s time will likely involve caring for the children. This includes assisting with daily child-caring activities, accompanying the children and staff on outings (if applicable), and the opportunity to develop program components and/or materials to enhance the home’s offerings for the children, staff, and adoptive parents.
Isaiah 54 Children’s Home
A co-ed home for approximately 20 abandoned and orphaned children ranging from infancy to approximately 10 years old.
Ocean View Place of Safety
Ocean View Place of Safety is a facility that provides a place of refuge for at-risk youth whose home or family life has put them in danger or is untenable, or who have had an issue with the law and are awaiting rehabilitation options. Ocean View provides food, housing, sport and on-site schooling for boys up to 12 years old and girls up to the age of 17. The Place of Safety is designed to house up to 70 young people for up to six months.
Saint Monica’s Children’s Home
An over 100-year-old institution that strives to “…provide children and young people on admission with the understanding of their present situation (residential care) and the skills to cope and manage the situation” and “…to conduct an independent living programme for young people to be equipped with skills to make the transition from the institution to community life” and to “…to provide children from disadvantaged back-grounds with life-skills.” St. Monica’s residents are mostly elementary to middle-school aged girls.
Keep a Child Alive – Blue Roof Clinic
Keep a Child Alive is an international NGO that operates the Blue Roof, an HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention clinic in Wentworth. Patients not only receive anti-retroviral drugs but a range of supportive services to address nutrition, mental health and other needs. This placement is likely to involve assistance with community education as well as with outreach and communications efforts such as development of materials for dissemination in the community.
One Global Economy Technology Center
The Center houses approximately 20 computers and has two staff. It adjoins the public library, the local elected Councilor’s office, and a community hall. Children form lines at the door when the Center opens after school. In the mornings and many evenings, the Center is open for adults to attend computer classes and to use the center for their computer needs. DukeEngage students respond to day-to-day queries, provide basic training to new computer users, and have the opportunity to develop computer workshops, particularly for the youth. They may work on outreach to inform more members of the community of the center's existence and services. Specific to this effort, the student may create written materials about the center.
South Durban Basin Area Based Management
This is a local government agency that interacts and partners with many of the NGOs at which students work. It “is responsible for the design and implementation of social development programmes” in the area, focusing on economic development, technical assistance, and liaising between NGOs and the Durban municipality. Students are likely to assist with technical assistance to community organizations and may be able to conduct research into funding and other resource opportunities for those organizations.
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
SDCEA focuses on environmental justice and related issues of concern to the citizens of Wentworth and neighboring communities. Its activities and initiatives include: monitoring air pollution and incidents, lobbying elected officials for clean air legislation, writing and distributing information to stakeholders, convening workshops to inform and empower community members, and working for sustainable urban development. The DukeEngage students work in the community and at the SDCEA office. Community work involves meetings and events such as community clean-ups. Office work is likely to include preparing documents for advocacy purposes.
Victim Friendly Centre
The Victim Friendly Centre is a domestic violence relief and support program housed within (but separate from) the local police station. The Centre provides a safe haven for victims of domestic violence, assists victims with becoming financially and emotionally self-sufficient, provides basic necessities to families in immediate need due to domestic violence, and makes referrals to other service providers. The Centre and police have a strong working relationship. DukeEngage students assist with daily work as well as help with the Centre’s efforts to enhance its infrastructure through requests for funds and in-kind donations. In addition, they assist staff with their networking and educational efforts involving schools, hospitals, and religious congregations. A new short-term transitional “safe house” is expected to open next to and affiliated with the centre. This would provide additional opportunities both for the student placed at the centre and for the DukeEngage group as a whole.
We Help Our Children
WHOC’s work focuses on engaging youth in positive experiences and activities that benefit their social development and academic achievement. WHOC operates in schools, throughout the Wentworth community, and in neighboring communities. It offers workshops in areas such as life skills, team-building, goal-setting, leadership development, and cultural sensitivity. WHOC’s current focus is, to a large extent, on solidifying organizational practices that include plans for more sustainable funding, evaluating project efforts, aligning training materials to meet South Africa’s educational standards, and so on. Students work on youth outreach, which includes mentoring and peer facilitation components. Work takes place at the WHOC site and in schools, community centers, and other locations.
Wentworth Organisation of Women (WOW)
WOW is a community-based organization that offers a range of services and activities for youth, the elderly and other members of the community. It has undergone expansion and reorganization since the inception of the DukeEngage program in Wentworth. Student work would likely include participation in the after school program for at-risk youth (youth generally in teh 6-12 age range), help prepare and serve meals to approximately 140 families twice each week, plan and carry out a program during the winter school break (two weeks in July), and participation in the Citizens on Patrol (C.O.P.) program by assisting with the facilitation of getting kids safely and efficiently to school on time without incident. Other assistance could include development of informational materials.
Enrichment opportunities: Many of the enrichment opportunities take place in Wentworth. Others expose the students to South Africa and South African culture beyond Wentworth. The opportunities are likely to include but not be limited to:
• Orientation to and tour of Wentworth at the beginning of the program.
• Tour of the Phoenix settlement of Durban where Mahatma Ghandi lived and initiated his strategy of satyagraha; visit to the Ghandi Museum in the same area.
• Visit to the U.S. Consulate in Durban and meeting with Consulate staff.
• Meetings with eThekwini (Durban) municipal officials.
• Guest speakers likely to include local elected officials, businesspeople and other community members with first-hand knowledge of and experience with Wentworth's history.
• Volunteering with local youth soccer teams.
• Visit to a game park – day-long or overnight trip
• Community events in Wentworth and beyond (ranging from advocacy meetings to political gatherings to music and art festivals)
Students may independently plan other activities that are not specific to the DukeEngage program but are culturally or socially interesting, such as excursions to the Durban Botanic Gardens, the Umgeni River Bird Park, the beaches of Durban, flea markets, festivals, and so on.
Opportunities for Autonomy / Private Space: Students work with their service placements from approximately 9 AM until 4 PM each weekday with exceptions for special events, field trips, and so on. After work students return to the guest house or their homestays and/or meet with fellow participants for dinner. Students are likely to have approximately two evening commitments each week with additional outings and commitments possible. Some weekend days and full weekends are scheduled in advance; others are “free” with students given the opportunity to plan day trips and other activities in the full group or small groups.
Giving and getting—benefits for Duke students:
While supporting a range of community organizations, students, too, receive benefits, including:
· Knowledge of South African culture, specifically with regard to a historic “coloured” community
· Opportunities for meaningful cross-cultural learning and collaboration
· Strategies for building the capacity, impact, and outcomes of a diverse group of organizations and playing a role in implementing those strategies
· Greater understanding of the similarities between seemingly different countries and cultures that may have more in common than one might at first expect (the U.S. and South Africa)
· Knowledge of and action on program conception, design, and implementation
· Real world problem-solving both in terms of community challenges as well as potential challenges of the DukeEngage program itself
· Resourcefulness skills including individual and group decision-making in an unfamiliar and temporary (for DE students) environment
· Expanded awareness of and clarity about potential future educational and career opportunities